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The Worst Films of 2012
by Daniel Kelly

Note: As many of you will be aware I didn't see nearly as many films in 2012 as I have in past years. As a result my best and worst of 2012 lists will be based on a smaller selection of titles, and are somewhat less definitive than previous examples. However I have decided to persevere for your benefit, and conduct the countdowns anyway. Here I present my five least favourite films of 2012, and in a week or so my best should follow. Again I should stress this list is based on a much tighter selection of titles than is desirable, but that doesn't make the following batch of turkeys any better.

Dishonourable Mention: The Watch – “The Watch” doesn't quite make the list because the final 20 minutes of the film are rather a lot of fun. However the preceding 80 are just as bad as anything I’ve seen this year, rolling around in a fit of witless and strenuously unfunny tedium. The cast are all on autopilot and director Akiva Schaffer looks uncomfortable calling the shots on such a high profile studio picture. The closing portion of the picture combines action with raunchy hi-jinks really effectively, which makes the rest of the movie all the more confusing. Why is it so slow and why are the jokes so broad and mistimed? Apparently an older PG version of the screenplay was rewritten for added R-rated appeal by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Maybe this explains the tonal inconsistencies and blurred execution, but it certainly doesn't excuse it.

5. Wrath of the Titans - I was kinder to 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” than most (in the sense I tolerated the picture and wasn’t offended by it), but this unnecessary sequel proved a test of patience too far. Sam Worthington returns as Perseus, and thanks to an unimaginative and softly plotted story, basically has to start battling monsters again. The CGI is decent, but the set-pieces are crushingly dull, director Jonathan Liebesman once again exercising his infuriating right to shoot everything like a videogame cut scene. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are hammy relief as Zeus and Hades respectively, but even they are reduced to miniatures during Liebesman’s tired and special effects obsessed denouement. Vacuous, soulless and concurrently joyless, “Wrath of the Titans” beats out even the shonky “Total Recall” remake as 2012’s premier blockbusting stinker.

4. War Horse - Now here’s a heartbreaker. Upon its release in January I was really looking forward to “War Horse”. Awards bodies seemed to be acknowledging it as a contender, audiences were embracing it warmly and of course being a Spielberg devotee, I’m always keen to see what he has to offer. On this occasion that amounts to an overlong, saccharine and cripplingly humdrum adaptation of a hopefully superior book. A cast of legendary actors are wasted through one dimensional characterization, and let’s face it,, horses aren’t exactly the most expressive animals upon which to hang a drama. Some trench warfare footage impresses, but even it falls prey to the picture’s pacing issues and lack of editorial control. Extraordinarily long, “War Horse” is an uninvolving test of concentration and will power.

3. Wanderlust - Another almighty disappointment. Marking David Wain’s first gig behind the camera since 2008’s “Role Models”, “Wanderlust” reunited him with Paul Rudd and brought Jennifer Aniston (fresh off her amusing turn in “Horrible Bosses”) into the mix, for some fish out of water shenanigans. The trailer was quite funny, prompting modest hope, but unfortunately such optimism was poorly founded. Repetitive, overly devoted to unfunny improv habits and with a nasty penchant for dragging jokes our far beyond their natural life, “Wanderlust” proved mirthless and messy. The film’s narrative arc also jostles unfavourably with cruddy subplots, lengthening the amount of time this farce struggles to generate laughs. Flat as a pancake, but in fairness it proved something of a box-office bomb. That probably explains why you can’t remember it being released.

2. Rock of Ages - Following his vibrant work on 2007’s “Hairspray” I had no reason to suspect Adam Shankman’s cinematic version of “Rock of Ages” would be so unpleasant to digest. An all-star cast come together to annoy and underwhelm you in equal measure, replete with a nauseating tale of young love and a garish Glam Rock soundtrack. The musical numbers are executed with minimal imagination and the story unfolds in bizarre and unfathomably lame directions. There’s a gay love surprise! Jaded rock icon redemption! Boyband lampooning goofiness! Sleazy agents! An Eli Roth Cameo! The last statement should in itself be proof enough of how limp this musical is. It’s ghastly, and at nearly two hours a huge waste of time.

1. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - Over-directed baloney with Nicolas Cage in ridiculous form on his second attempt at this character. Neveldine and Taylor provide numerous incomprehensible action scenes that make no sense, forge a clichéd story that lacks any semblance of focus and assemble a supporting cast so amateurish it feels like watching a group of elderly people surrounding a hammy goon on smack in a piece of local community theatre. Disorganised, incredibly moronic and filled to the tip with bland portions of exposition, this laughable attempt at a comic-book movie only looks weaker in the wake of “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises”. Quite possibly the worst Nic Cage film of recent years. Certifiably the worst film of 2012.

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originally posted: 12/31/12 00:27:38
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